February 29, 2008

The Wrong Side of Every List

Justin Katz

A sharp-eyed reader points out the following mention of yet another comparative list for which Rhode Island is to the extreme on the wrong end, asking "Why does everything cost more in Rhode Island?" (emphasis added):

In 2007, according to the National Association of State Budgeting Officers, states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections. That is up from $10.6 billion in 1987, a 127 increase once adjusted for inflation. With money from bonds and the federal government included, total state spending on corrections last year was $49 billion. By 2011, the report said, states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion.

It cost an average of $23,876 dollars to imprison someone in 2005, the most recent year for which data were available. But state spending varies widely, from $45,000 a year in Rhode Island to $13,000 in Louisiana.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.


Though, perhaps surprisingly, RI is 42nd in the percent of the state's general fund spent on corrections, while LA is 12th.

The scariest stat I found in the report is that, in the ratio of dollars spent on corrections to dollars spent on higher education, RI was 7th from the "top" (ie worst), with .83 dollars spent on corrections for every dollar spent on higher ed.

It has to be noted that this is largely determined by our low levels of spending on higher ed. A 2006 RIPEC press release ranked RI 46th in per capita spending on higher ed. This January, RI was the only state to report a drop in spending on higher ed in 2007.

Posted by: Thomas Schmeling at February 29, 2008 11:41 AM

Okay. Let's start the countdown until Richard Ferruccio or one of his minions posts something to explain why all this number proves is that corrections unions everywhere else are getting screwed. And it's Carcieri's fault (of course).

Posted by: John at February 29, 2008 2:09 PM

No mystery here. The guard-inmate ratio is the highest in America and the guards are the highest compensated. Including overtime and the always obscene "benefits"-right about $100,000 per. Not bad for a job that requires a GED.
Actually, if you divide the 08 Corrections budget ($200 million) by the number of inmates (3900), you will see the real cost and it's now higher than the $45,000 cited.
In most states prison guards are low level "pumping gas" style jobs that pay in the low 20's with few benefits.
Of course, in most states, crossing guards are 6th grade volunteers and police and fire miracoulusly work till 55.

Posted by: Mike at February 29, 2008 7:29 PM

Is there any public employee union in the state of Rhode island that hasn't risen to the top of the cost to the taxpayer scale compared to their counterparts in the rest of the country?

And it would by one thing if these public union folks were happy, satisfied that they had acheived their goal, knowing full well that they had soaked the taxpayer and not delivered an ounce of anything extra for all that extra cost. But they are still not happy, they are still clamering for even more. Amazing!

Posted by: Frank at March 1, 2008 10:12 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.